TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (1): 1-9.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002789

    Next Articles

Review on the Study of Formation Mechanism of Coral Reefs

ZHAO Huanting1,2,WANG Lirong1   

  1. (1.Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology,South China Sea Institute of Oceanology,CAS,Guangzhou 510301,China; 2.Collaborative Innovation Center for the South China Sea Studies,Nanjing University,Nanjing 210023,China)
  • Online:2016-01-05 Published:2016-01-05

Abstract: Coral reefs have been formed through accumulation of debris of scleractinian corals and associated organism in shallow water of the tropic ocean, most of which are distributed in both sides of equator of the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. The study of the formation mechanism of coral reefs is very important to understand the tectonic movement of the earth and marine dynamics. Darwin firstly gave the theory of coral reefs’ formation mechanism about 200 years ago, since then many theories have been proposed, which can be classified into 2 groups according to the relationship between the formation of coral reefs and change of sea level. The theories which are related to the change of the seal level include: Darwin’s subsidence hypothesis, Penck and Daly’s glacial-control theory, Kuenen’s glacially controlled subsidence theory, Dietz and Hess’s spreading and subsidence theory, and Morgan’s hotspot subsidence theory. And the other theories which have nothing with sea level change include: Murray’s Sea floor uplift theory, Hoffmeister and Ladd’s antecedent-platform theory, and Yabe and Asano’s Karstic saucer theory. In the past decades, the studies on the revolution of coral reefs in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic showed the factors which affected the structure and morphology of the coral reefs and how the reefs developed in the extreme events. The studies on formation mechanism of the coral reefs in China were started from about 50 years ago. The records of deep drilling in South China Sea shows that the corals reefs in China may form in accord with Subsidence theory and glacial subsidence theory, that is, the development and formation of coral reefs in South China Sea are in the slow subsidence of crust for a long time and controlled by the Quaternary glacial and inter glacial epoch. The formation of the coral reefs is so complicated and one theory could not be used to explain all coral reefs. With the development of the new way for field investigation and the application of new laboratory techniques, more data can be obtained and suitable formation model for specific reefs can be reached.

Key words: coral reefs, formation mechanism, sea level change, geologic structure